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McEntee says Dairy Expansion on track, 'No Room for Complacency'

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, today gave the opening address at the Annual Conference of the National Dairy Council. The Theme of the conference was 'Unlocking Growth in Dairy'.

Speaking in Dublin this morning, the Minister pointed to the critical importance of the Agri Food sector to Ireland's economy. Referring specifically to the role of the dairy sector, he said that dairy exports had performed strongly on 2011, and that there was every reason to believe that the medium and long term prospects for the sector were good, and that the 50% dairy expansion targeted in Food Harvest 2020 was on track. He pointed out, however, that there was no room for complacency, particularly given the likelihood of continuing price volatility in international markets, saying "There has been a significant price correction in dairy markets over recent weeks, and this provides a reminder, if one were needed, that the realisation of the dairy expansion target will depend on the achievement of maximum efficiency at production and processing levels".

The Minister said that the dairy expansion would only happen if it was profitable for operators at all levels of the supply chain, and that this would require a pro-active approach to improving business performance. "This will require particular focus on the optimal deployment of expanded milk processing capacity, on improvements in on-farm competitiveness through the transfer of technology and knowledge to dairy farmers, and on adding value to milk through research and development and o innovative product development, and marketing", said the Minister.

Minister McEntee said that a successful expansion would require a concerted effort from operators across the sector. He said that the critical success factors would include a farm sector with the lowest possible input costs, and strong sustainability and quality credentials, and a processing sector with a strong innovation culture and a focus on processing efficiency. He also pointed to the need for a strong market orientation, geared towards producing what the consumer wants in the way that he or she wants it, backed by a strong reputation for quality, excellence and sustainability in as many markets as possible worldwide.

Concluding, Minister McEntee said that he was confident that the Irish Dairy sector, with the support of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and relevant state agencies, was well placed to take on the challenges ahead, to drive production with the energy and professionalism for which it was already renowned, and to meet the ambitious targets for expansion in Food Harvest 2020.

Date Released: 22 May 2012